In the latest of our Westfield W-League team previews we take a look at Canberra United’s prospects as they seek to defend their crown.
If stability counts for anything, then Canberra United are in a strong position as they seek to claim successive titles.
The team from the nation’s capital, unlike many of their rivals, constantly seem to retain the core of their squad year-in, year-out. Indeed they will line up with no less than six players from the league’s foundation season way back in 2008; Lydia Williams, Grace Gill, Nicole Begg, Ashleigh Sykes, Rebecca Kiting and Ellie Brush.
And their title winning squad has been supplemented by a number of high-profile recruits, led by 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup star and former Westfield W-League golden boot Jodie Taylor as a guest player. Joining Taylor is fellow NWSL player Veronica Perez, who is set to become the first male or female Mexican to play in an Australian national competition.
The goalscoring partnership between Taylor and perennial golden-boot challenger Michelle Heyman promises to be a mouth-watering prospect for United players and supporters alike. "In my head, I would always compete with Jodie trying to win the Golden Boot,” said Heyman. “So it's going to be fun to finally be on the same team as her."
Another familiar face will be Westfield Matildas goalkeeper Williams who returns after missing last campaign with a knee injury, while cool defender Emma Checker and Adelaide’s player of the year Jenna McCormick are yet more high-quality arrivals in Rae Dower’s squad.
The incoming players replace a host of experience in the wake of departed US trio Chantel Jones, Lori Lindsey and Stephanie Ochs
It would be a major surprise if Canberra are not a constant presence in the top four throughout the season, and pushing hard to retain their title come the pointy-end of the campaign.
Ins: Emma Checker (Melbourne Victory), Nickoletta Flannery (NTC United), Emma Kete (Western New York Flash/USA), Jenna McCormick (Adelaide United), Veronica Perez (Washington Spirit/USA), Jodie Taylor (Portland Thorns/USA), Rebecca Kiting (year off)
Outs: Grace Field (sabbatical), Holly Houston, Chantel Jones (Western New York Flash/USA), Lori Lindsey (retired), Stephanie Ochs (Houston Dash/USA), Sally Rojahn (sabbatical)